Sick days cost CBC $15M
Sick days and short-term disability leave are costing the taxpayer-funded CBC over $15 million annually in lost productivity.
Documents obtained through Access to Information reveal that in 2006-07 the CBC lost $15.3 million as a result of 68,000 sick days taken by the Crown corporation’s staff of just under 10,000 employees. That was up from $13.6 million in lost productivity the previous year.
“Although, as with many large organizations, the absentee rates and the costs seem to be rising generally the absentee rates at CBC do appear to be high and they certainly are of concern to us,” said CBC spokesman Jeff Keay.
In 2006-07, the CBC received $974 million from the federal government.
While the $15.3 million loss may seem staggering, when compared with the federal public service, the CBC has a better record.
According to Statistics Canada, federal employees missed an average of 9.2 days of work in 2007 because of illness but CBC employees only missed an average of 7.4 days.
While the numbers suggest CBC employees take fewer sick days than a federal government employees, when the numbers are broken down into staff for French and English CBC, they tell a different story.
Staff working at CBC French television missed 9.7 days of work in 2006-07 while CBC French radio staff missed 8.2 days of work.
This is in stark contrast to CBC’s English television staff that missed only six days of work that year and CBC’s English radio staff who missed even less at 5.9 days.
Keay said the CBC has been working with the unions which represent CBC employees to find out what they can do to cut back on the number of days employees miss each year.
Aside from general health, the CBC says Keay has recognized that as a news gathering organization its employees work in a high stress environment and are concentrating on the mental well-being of staff.
In 2005, the corporation conducted a survey of nearly half its staff and found that 44% were displaying symptoms of high-level psychological distress. Nine out of 10 said the distress was related to their work.
The survey also revealed a tension between staff and management and a culture where people failed to show mutual respect in the workplace.
Since that time, the CBC has been mandating that each employee attend a half-day “respect seminar” designed to improve relations between staff.
Sick days cost CBC $15M